Transparency provides the clarity manufacturers, suppliers, and consumers need to make informed decisions and help advance material health of products. In the building industry, it allows for a clearer understanding of the impacts building materials have on the environment and on human health.
Whether the project is a new building or major renovation, sustainability is an increasingly important factor in decision-making. Whole-building life cycle assessment (LCA) makes it possible to look at all phases of a building, from material extraction through construction to decommissioning.
For nearly 20 years, the U.S. design and construction community has largely focused on single-dimension green attributes of building materials. Most practitioners, with hurried schedules and product specifications up to their eyeballs, look for two primary green features—recycled content and low-emitting materials. However, that is now changing.
In the November 2015 issue of The Construction Specifier, this author examined the basics surrounding building material disclosure and environmental product declarations (EPDs). In this followup article, he looks at how the information will be used in lifecycle databases, whole-building analyses, product manufacturer improvement, green project rating systems, and building codes.
Buildings designed with energy efficiency in mind are becoming the norm. In fact, according to a 2013 McGraw-Hill study, “firms are shifting their business toward green building, with 51 percent of respondents planning more than 60 percent of their work to be green by 2015.”